How well does your organization embrace innovation, change, technological improvements and emerging trends? Are you able to respond quickly and take advantage of how your clients and customers communicate and prefer to do business or do things move so slowly you’re looking forward to unveiling the Commodore 64 next month?
I had a chat with a man who works for a large company in the private sector. He’s exploring a senior technology opportunity with a government body and is frustrated to learn the layers of approval required to make technological changes. He has a long history of working in the private sector and shared how quickly the company he was with seizes growing trends and changes literally overnight upgrading their technology and how they do business with their customers. The company he’s with is an extremely large organization with various branches and physical buildings in many locations. It’s big and has a progressive philosophy.
This past week, I’ve heard from two people in different organizations who both discussed their frustration with the limits placed upon them to use current technology as they go about their work. Their frustrations really centered on knowing there are existing technologies which their customers and clients use on a daily basis, but the organizations they work for will not permit them to conduct business using those same methods of communication.
Now I like to look at things from the point of view of the end-user; the client or customer. How does my target audience currently communicate? Where do they congregate or get together? Do they generally prefer one social media platform over another? How would they like to communicate with me and me with them, in order to communicate effectively? If I think of things this way, if I take the time to find out by asking my customers or clients, then I may advance my business, reduce frustrations of my end-users, speed up customer response times, and perhaps reduce the need for multiple communications over the same issues.
A concrete example perhaps? Suppose a business relies upon customers to use the telephone to contact front-line personnel. Customers may have to leave multiple messages, may grow impatient waiting for service, may end up dealing with others to whom they have to explain their situation from the start several times, growing increasingly frustrated during the process. If the customer was permitted to email their question, or use technology to both create and then track their question or problem, they might be less inclined to make multiple calls or deal with multiple people, slowing down the system while 2 or more people attempt to respond to a single issue.
An effective and continually updated website can also go a long way to giving customers and clients alike the information they might be seeking. This service might result in no phone inquiry at all, as the target audience has a way to gather the information they are seeking on their own.
The availability for customers or clients to independently obtain information on their own empowers your target audience. The information is currently there for them to pull in at their leisure. Now you have an informed customer or client, and you have freed up time for your front-linen personnel to turn their attention to other tasks they perform to serve your customers or clients. Everyone wins.
The same is true when it comes to using technology in other ways. I went to a presentation on innovation not long ago and the facilitator handed out paper copies of the PowerPoint presentation. I was put off right away. Paper copies and PowerPoint don’t reek innovation. The printed slide shots were tiny, the font hard to read, and I thought of all the paper used in those handouts. Why not just provide a link to the presentation source stored online? Or email a link to the presentation and update it to a Prezi or some other fresher medium.
I understand the concept of being cautious. Caution is well-advised in order not to create more problems than you solve. The benefit of being a trend-setter is you create new breakthroughs and the benefits of being a follower is you reap those breakthroughs without the pitfalls of problems as they are ironed out by the time you use them. The downside of being a trend-setter is that you may go in directions and nobody follows. The danger in being a follower is you are always behind the present if you move too slowly. By the time you get around to using email, it’s not being used by your customers or clients and they’ve moved on to other ways of communicating.
There are many intelligent people responsible for such areas as technology and how it will or won’t be used in an organization, how customers will or won’t be communicated with. I don’t pretend to know more or better than they about their area of expertise. But the two people I spoke with this week are front-end employees who use the communication and presentation tools in their organizations to interact with their organizations end-users; their customers and clients. If the customers and clients are frustrated, a coordinated response to improve service surely would be a goal to embrace by all.
Technology should I believe serve those who use it, rather than impede users going about their work. Exercise caution but beware glacial change.